She gave him half a grin. 'I'm probably just sleep-deprived.'

Yes, and he knew why. Because their 'early nights' always turned into late ones—they couldn't keep their hands off each other. But that half-smile bothered him. It was as if she was making the effort but the pain was too much for her.

'Have you always had a lot of headaches?' he asked.

'Stop fussing.'

'I will if you answer the question.'

She sighed. 'No. Just lately. I just need to get more sleep.'

A warning bell rang in the back of his head. She'd just started having a lot of headaches... 'Have you had your eyes checked lately?'

'Six months ago—and I have perfect vision.'

So it wasn't that she needed glasses. 'Where's the pain?'

'All over,' she admitted.

'Let me check you out.'

She flapped a hand at him. 'It's just a headache, Jake. Stop fussing.'

He folded his arms. 'You've been having a lot of headaches lately. And it's not usual for you. So I'd be happier if I checked you out.'

She scoffed. 'Don't be ridiculous.'

He growled in frustration. 'This is stupid. I'm in the middle of clinic. I've got patients waiting to see me.'

'Then go back to them and let me get on with this mountain of paperwork.'

'Not until you've let me give you a quick once-over.'

'It's just a headache.'

He didn't think it was.

And she must have guessed what he was thinking, because her mouth compressed. 'Jake, don't be ridiculous. I don't have an aneurysm. You're just seeing things that aren't there because we discussed aneurysms last night. It's like—oh, when medical students first learn about a disease and then panic themselves when they think they might have the symptoms. We're both old enough and experienced enough to know better.'

'Let me check you out. If I'm wrong, there's no harm done—and I'll grovel for the next six months.'

'You're not going to shut up, are you?'


She sighed. 'All right. You've got five minutes.'

But the quick neurological tests had him worried. 'There's a hole in the middle of your visual field.'

'No, there isn't.'

'Vicky, get out of denial. I'm not happy about this.'

She scowled. 'Jake, you're overreacting.'

'You've got a bad headache. You don't normally get headaches but you've had several recently—a lot, I'd say. You've got a hole in your visual field. And don't argue— you turned your head so you could read the middle letters.' He paused. 'Does this feel like the worst headache you've ever had in your life?'

'No, it doesn't. There's nothing clinically wrong with me. The paracetamol will kick in shortly.'

It should have kicked in already. But obviously she wasn't going to listen to him. Time to compromise. 'You've got until lunchtime. Until I've finished my clinic,' Jake said. 'And if the headache hasn't gone, I want you to have a scan.'

She flapped a hand at him. 'Jake, I don't have a family history of aneurysms. I don't smoke, I don't drink to excess, and I don't have any medical conditions.' She ran through the list they'd gone through together last night.' No polycystic kidney disease, no Marfan syndrome, no connective tissue disorders, no neurofibromatosis. My cholesterol levels are fine. My blood pressure's slightly on the high side, yes, but it runs in the family and I'm taking diuretics to keep it under control—and, yes, before you ask, I take my medication properly. I do not have an aneurysm!' she said, gritting her teeth.

But Jake couldn't leave it. 'You know as well as I do that aneurysms are symptomless for a long time. This might be the first symptom. A sentinel headache.'

'If it's an aneurysm—and I don't think for one moment it is—it hasn't ruptured so a CT scan won't show anything. Neither will a lumbar puncture, so don't you dare suggest sticking needles in me.'

'MRA, then.' Magnetic resonance angiography was non-invasive, and could show up unruptured aneurysms. However, they both knew the scan wasn't good enough to help plan surgery. If it showed anything,' they'd need to do more tests. Something involving a contrast dye—something that carried a risk.

'You're making a fuss over nothing,' she insisted.

He wasn't backing down. 'Lunchtime. And you have to be honest with me. Otherwise, I'll drag you off to Radiology myself. Kicking and screaming over my shoulder, if need be.'

Her expression told him she realised he meant it, and to hell with hospital gossip. 'All right. Lunchtime. But my headache will be gone by then,' Vicky insisted.

'Lunchtime. And I'll track you down if you disappear without seeing me,' Jake warned.

'You're fussing over nothing.' She waved her hand as if shooing him away. 'Go and finish your clinic'

'Lunchtime,' Jake said warningly.

Vicky continued with her paperwork. Though she found herself squinting at the computer screen.

A hole in her visual field.

Was Jake right? Was she really turning her head to see better, without realising it?

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